Choosing Your Gateway: Flying from JFK or LaGuardia

Are you gearing up for a trip and can’t decide whether to fly from JFK or LaGuardia? In the bustling heart of New York, these two airport giants stand as testament to the city’s rich aviation history and its ever-thriving future.

They serve millions of passengers every year, acting as a springboard to destinations across the globe. This article aims to unravel the myriad factors that make each airport unique, helping you make an informed decision for your next journey.

A Tale of Two Airports: JFK and LaGuardia

New York City boasts two of the busiest airports in the United States – John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) and LaGuardia Airport (LGA). But did you know that each has its unique tale and charm?

JFK, named after the 35th president of the United States, is the primary international airport serving the New York City area. It’s the busiest international air passenger gateway into North America and the sixth busiest airport in the United States.

Established in 1948, JFK has grown into an international travel hub, with a whopping eight terminals and over 59 million passengers in 2019.

Jfk Airport In New York City Inside

On the other hand, LaGuardia, named after former New York City mayor Fiorello La Guardia, is the third busiest airport in New York City.

Although smaller than JFK, LaGuardia is renowned for its domestic flights. It’s the top choice for those looking to travel within the country, accommodating over 30 million passengers in 2019 despite its more compact size.

Together, JFK and LaGuardia contribute significantly to making New York City one of the world’s major transportation hubs. While JFK acts as the city’s international gateway, connecting it to far-off places across the globe, LaGuardia keeps the country connected, facilitating journeys between states.

Their collective impact extends beyond their geographical boundaries, influencing global air travel trends and contributing significantly to the American aviation industry’s development.

Location Matters: JFK Vs LaGuardia

The deciding factor between JFK and LaGuardia can often be their respective locations and accessibility to your final destination.

JFK is located in Queens, at the southeastern end of New York City. It is about 16 miles from midtown Manhattan, a distance that can be covered in about 45 minutes to an hour by car, depending on traffic conditions.

JFK is also well-served by public transportation, including the AirTrain, buses, and subway connections.

Laguardia Airport In New York City Outside Plane

LaGuardia, also located in Queens, is closer to Manhattan. It’s only about 8 miles from midtown, a commute that typically takes 30 to 45 minutes by car.

However, unlike JFK, LaGuardia doesn’t have a direct rail connection, making bus or taxi services the preferred options for travelers.

If your destination is Manhattan, Brooklyn, or any of the city’s key attractions, LaGuardia’s closer location might make it a more convenient choice. However, if you’re heading to areas in Long Island or the southeastern parts of the city, JFK could be more advantageous.

Going the Distance: Flight Reach

What about the actual flights themselves? Here’s where our two contenders significantly differ.

If you’re heading overseas, JFK is likely your best bet. It offers an extensive range of international flights, with hundreds of direct routes to cities across the globe.

Airlines like Delta and American Airlines use JFK as a hub for their international routes, making it a versatile option for global travelers.

On the flip side, if your travel plans are domestic, LaGuardia might be the ideal choice. As a hub for domestic flights, it offers numerous routes across the U.S. While JFK also caters to domestic travel, LaGuardia has a wider variety of flights to smaller cities and towns.

Flying on a Budget: Airfare Comparisons

If you’re a budget-conscious traveler, the airfare could be a significant factor in choosing between JFK and LaGuardia.

Given its status as an international hub, JFK often hosts flights from a wide range of airlines, which can mean competitive pricing for many destinations. However, international flights, particularly long-haul, tend to be pricier than domestic ones.

Airplane Flying Over New York

LaGuardia, with its focus on domestic travel, often offers more competitive rates for flights within the United States.

If you’re traveling locally, this could make LaGuardia the more cost-effective option. Keep in mind that prices can fluctuate based on factors like booking time, season, and airline.

In the end, while the airports may have their general trends, it’s always a good idea to check flights at both airports before making a booking. You might be surprised by a deal at either location.

What to Consider When Making Your Choice

Remember to think about factors beyond just the cost of airfare. Consider the location and your final destination, the type of trip (international or domestic), the airlines you prefer or are enrolled in loyalty programs with, and the amenities you desire in an airport.

Other factors can include the timing of your trip (some times of year might see one airport performing better in terms of delays or cancellations), and any specific needs you have, like wheelchair accessibility or pet services.


In the end, both JFK and LaGuardia have their unique advantages and offer quality services to millions of passengers each year.

Your choice depends on what factors are most important to you. Be sure to consider all aspects of your trip and personal preferences before making a decision. Happy travels!